Friday, March 18, 2005

Pieta from The Trojan Women Posted by Hello

Odds and Ends

Played my first round of golf for the new season yesterday. Found a great article by Charles Marowitz on criticism.
Marowitz was an iconclast thirty years ago and retains his edge.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Curtain Call for The Trojan Women Posted by Hello

The end of the line for the Trojan Women Posted by Hello

Talthybius has second thoughts Posted by Hello

Andromache and Hecuba with Asyanax Posted by Hello

Cassandra with her torch Posted by Hello

Hecuba and the Chorus Posted by Hello

Trojan Women Opens March 17th

The Monmouth College (Monmouth, IL) production of Euripides’ The Trojan Women opens this Thursday, March 17, 2005 and will run at 7:30 PM through Saturday, March 19th at the Wells Theatre on the Monmouth College campus. There will also be a 2:00 PM Sunday performance. Tickets can be order by sending an e-mail to
The play was first produced in Athens in 415 BC as a part of a trilogy that told three stories of Troy. The first play focused on Paris and the start of the Trojan War. The second featured Palamedes, a member of the attacking Athenian army who got on the wrong side of Odysseus during the war. The third play was The Trojan Women, which takes place at the end of the war during the final destruction of Troy. It did not win the prize in its year, coming in second to a playwright known as Xenocles. Of the nine tragedies produced at the festival in 415 BC only The Trojan Women has survived.

Euripides is known for his iconoclastic themes and the play is sometimes characterized as a direct reaction to Athenian political events with earlier critics tending to point to the Athenian attack on the island of Melos in 416BC as the trigger incident for the play. The island nation had been putting off declaring its allegiance either Athens or Sparta in the ongoing conflict between the two city-states. Athens finally decided to force the issue. They attacked Melos and killed all the men and sent the women and children into slavery. Most modern critics feel that Euripides didn’t write the play in direct reaction to the Melian massacre as the plays for 415BC would probably have to have been written at least a year in advance to allow for initial submission, selection of the best scripts, and some eight months of rehearsal.

This does not mean that there were not enough other examples of war-time cruelty around. Most ancient Aegean societies regarded war as a common and constant fact of life and accepted that losers were not going to get a bed of roses. Both Xenophon and Herodotus recount stories of cruelties against vanquished opponents. Thucydides, who was a contemporary of Euripides, also penned disparaging sentiments about human nature in his writings about the Peloponesian Wars. Since it was more normal to kill men of fighting age and enslave surviving women and children after battles than it was to show mercy, it can be a stretch to make a specific one to one parallel between the plight of the Trojan women and contemporary horrors. We should do better to remember that Euripides’ concern was not with the motives of the cruel Greeks, but with the suffering that they inflicted on the Trojans, which might also be inflicted back on them. Pain changes not one whit--whether the means of infliction is vengeful, sadistic, accidental, or natural (eg Tsunami).

Euripides’ concerns about suffering and revenge were not overblown. The Melian massacre had occurred by the time the play was performed in 415 BC and planning for a far larger imperialistic incursion into Sicily was ongoing. The Sicilian Expedition was approved just a few months after the play was performed. When it was finally launched in 413 BC, it ended in a massive Greek disaster that clearly hastened the final fall of Athens to Sparta in 404 BC.

A number of recent productions of the play have chosen contemporary images of sectarian genocide, holocaust ovens, or Abu Ghraib-like prisons in order to highlight the continued plight of the victims of war and terror. The Monmouth College production has chosen to keep the play in it’s historical milieu with the hope that the plight of the victims of violence will be a constant presence without becoming a ham fisted, partisan, political statement.

The communicated meaning of The Trojan Women has not changed. War, senseless violence, and mindless revenge plagued the ancient Aegean world and it continues to plague us today in the Sudan, Afghanistan, Iraq, and, even more shamefully, on the streets of our own land. Given what we know of Euripides and his own take on the events of the Trojan War in relation to the political situation in Athens in 415BC, the Monmouth production would appear to take an approach that Euripides might commend.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

(OFTA) Old Friends Talk Arts

Wednesday, March 9, 2005 will see the next meeting of OFTA (Old Friends Talk Arts) at the Buchanan Center for the Arts on the square in downtown Monmouth, IL.
The talk will be delivered by Jim De Young and is titled "Is It All Greek to You?"
It will be a brief introduction to the college production of Euripides' The Trojan Women The start time is 10:00 AM and refreshments will be served.
There is no admission charge.

The Trojan Women starts to add lighting Posted by Hello

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Cassandra and chorus.  Posted by Hello

And of course when push comes to shove, always listen to your lord and director first. Posted by Hello

Menelaus and Chorus. At this moment you may be a tad too equally spaced. In the realistic segments try for groups of 2, 3, or 4 with a small space inbetween groups.  Posted by Hello

Chorus good concentration. Note Lindsay looks away yet seems of a part of the whole because she seemingly can't bear to look. Posted by Hello

Hecuba and Chorus. Notice how the far sides of the composition tie to Hecuba, who is higher and at the top of a triangle.  Posted by Hello

Chorus: all levels used. Can you find the indirect focus?  Posted by Hello

Chorus: excellent focus and concentration Posted by Hello

Chorus--Again note different seating positions Posted by Hello

Chorus-- note the nicely varied body postures. Posted by Hello

Hecuba, Adromache, Talthybius, chorus.  Posted by Hello

The Trojan Women in Rehearsal at Monmouth

The Trojan Women by Euripides opens at the Monmouth College Theatre in Monmouth,IL. on Mar. 17th, 2005. You can just enjoy the photos or look at them for hints about composition, concentration, body positioning, etc. Remember that still photos do not always capture the dynamic of a moving scene, they are sometimes valuable to give a sense of how people look and are arranged at a given moment. We will post additional photos once the set, costumes, and lights are completed.

The Blue and the PC Blues

Tuesday news. NYPD Blue closes down tonite. Here's to Sipowitz and all the gang. Long may the re-runs reign. President Summer of Harvard is facing an attack from his faculty for his alledged remarks challenging the scientific prowess of women. We might wish the head of a major university would be somewhat circumspect, but foot in mouth disease seems to attack even the heavy honchos of the eastern establishment. The PC police who want his job for making a stupid remark need to re-read the first amendment and the material on academic freedom.